I'd say it's fairly impossible to review this book with facts without giving details best discovered by the reader, so I'll stick to my thoughts about the quality of the book and it's writing.In this novel, Murakami crafts an elegant and often times gripping story that some inexperienced readers could find treacherous as they try to follow it's trail. Leading a frustrating group discussion of this book, I found that most people complained that they felt the pacing was too slow, and that the use of repetition was tiresome. Others felt that it was a cultural artifact. I beg to differ. The story involves repetition, of things inside other things, worlds inside of worlds. It's a nested argument, and like math, there must be the correct number of closing parentheses or risk breaking the balanced equation. At times, the prose is somewhat sparse, and nearing the end (but NOT the end) there were moments where I felt some slack in the text, but the patient reader (ok, you don't have to be VERY patient, it's a short part) is rewarded by the last 5% or so of the book being gripping to point (for me) of high suspense. The characters are unique, compelling, and believable, despite being in a strange place on some strange days. No, you don't live next door to these people, so comparing them to your neighbors is a somewhat pointless endeavor destined for a disappointment which having undertaken, you will deserve. Enjoy these people for who they aren't, if you like.It's not the perfect novel, of course, and few are. But I found this to be FAR better than 90% of what you'll encounter, and certainly comparing this book to many currently popular books is a waste of time. This is better. If you don't like foie gras, then go eat the hotdog you're complaining it isn't. But let me enjoy the texture of this.